|“||Oh, get real, would you? I've got all the weaponry of a fighter plane - and then some. You're a big ribbon||„|
|~ MACH-1 to Val Ventura|
Beetle is a supervillain later turned superhero in the Marvel Comics universe. He was a former enemy of the Fantastic Four, Iron Man, Spider-Man, Daredevil and The Avengers. The Beetle persona has been used by seven individuals. They are Abner Jenkins, Leila Davis, Joaquim Robichaux, Elizabeth Vaughn, Gary Quinn, Janice Lincoln, and an unnamed criminal.
Abner Jenkins was a mechanic for an aircraft producer. Tired of his boring, low paying job and not getting promotions he thought he deserved he decided to strike out on his own in search of fame and fortune. Using a suit of armor, Jenkins became the Beetle. As the Beetle, Jenkins was often foiled by superheroes.
Abner Jenkin's criminal career as the Beetle
His first battle was against the Human Torch and the Thing, hoping that defeating half of the Fantastic Four would make him an overnight sensation. Spider-Man in particular was a constant problem, whom he first encountered while attempting to kidnap the Human Torch's girlfriend Dorrie Evans. He was among the many costumed menaces assembled by Doctor Doom to disrupt the wedding of Reed Richards and Susan Storm.
At one point, the Beetle was mentally dominated and recruited by the Collector to serve as his unwilling agent. Under the Collector's domination, the Beetle faced the Avengers. He later became a member of the group of super-villains who briefly posed as the Defenders in order to confuse the authorities.
After Jenkins and the Tinkerer made several armor upgrades, he had somewhat better success in groups. Egghead who recruited him for his Masters of Evil organization. The Beetle and the other members of the Masters of Evil were defeated by the Avengers and arrested. He was targeted by Iron Man during the Armor Wars due to Justin Hammer providing stolen Stark technology. The Beetle organized his own team of super-villainous mercenaries called the Sinister Syndicate. While working with the Syndicate, Jenkins murdered a scientist named Dr. Goulding.
Thunderbolts and the development of his hero career
After the disappearance of the Avengers and Fantastic Four following Onslaught's attack, Baron Zemo formed the Thunderbolts. Zemo's plan was to gain the favor or the citizens of New York, then in need of heroes, by posing as heroes in order to gain access to classified S.H.I.E.L.D. files and eventually control the world. Jenkins made a new armor, the Mobile Armored Cyber-Harness, and joined the team under his new identity, MACH-1.
Jenkins and several of his teammates began to like the hero life and decided to leave their villainous pasts behind. During this time Jenkins and his teammate Songbird began to develop feelings towards one another. Zemo instead outed the Thunderbolts as ex-Masters of Evil members to the public, leaving the new heroes with a public unwilling to trust them. Jenkins and other fugitive members decided to try making the Thunderbolts a legitimate team.
The murder he committed eventually came back to haunt Abe. When Hawkeye took over leadership of the team, he convinced Jenkins to serve out his prison sentence as a gesture of good will to the public. While in prison, Jenkins foiled a breakout, an act which brought him to the attention of the government's Commission on Superhuman Activities (CSA). They recruited Jenkins to participate in a sting operation aimed at Justin Hammer. Jenkins agreed, using a newly-designed tank-like armor to operate as the Beetle once more. Hawkeye blackmailed the CSA into allowing Jenkins to remain free, even though the government's records would continue to list Jenkins as incarcerated, in exchange for keeping the CSA's exploitation of Jenkins' secret.
To hide his true identity, Abe was given a new face and appearance of an African American by the Fixer (who was then posing as Thunderbolts' machine-smith Ogre) along with the alias of Matthew Davis. While this change made Songbird uneasy for a time, Jenkins himself adjusted quickly and reestablished himself as one of the team's most confident and capable members. Jenkins created the MACH-2 battle-suit after modifying his MACH-1 armor with the aid of Techno.
When the Thunderbolts uncovered and thwarted a CSA-connected conspiracy to exterminate all superhumans, Hawkeye blackmailed the CSA into giving all the Thunderbolts full pardons in exchange for the group's silence. However, as part of the terms of their deal, they were forbidden from publicly using their superhuman powers or costumed identities. Abe and Songbird started new civilian lives in Colorado. Jenkins found himself employment with the Burton Canyon police department as a tech support specialist.
Their brief respite was shattered when Graviton attempted to take over the world. Jenkins and Songbird agreed to join Citizen V (secretly Baron Zemo controlling Citizen V's body) in attacking Graviton as part of a new team of Thunderbolts. Jenkins was given new armor provided by Citizen V's financiers, the V-Battalion, and called himself MACH-3. Graviton was defeated and the world was saved, but MACH-3 and the other Thunderbolts disappeared in an implosion created by the dying Graviton's power, with the exception of Songbird, who was left behind as apparently the sole survivor.
The Thunderbolts reappeared on Counter Earth. Mach 3 and the Thunderbolts searched for a way to return to their own world. The team entered into an uneasy alliance with their original leader, Baron Zemo, to establish themselves as the leading superheroes of the troubled Counter-Earth. They became renowned for their heroism and were hailed by many to be the world's saviors.
Zemo's Thunderbolts had encountered the effects of a white hole spawned from an abandoned spacecraft, as its engine's radiation began eating Earth from the inside. The Thunderbolts embarked on a plan to combine their powers to punt the alien ship off the Earth and sever the link between the worlds. However, in order to complete this plan, the Thunderbolts needed to be inside the engine-spawned void in order to keep it clear of the real Earth as it closed. By so doing, they would reemerge from the void on the real Earth, forfeiting their roles and place on Counter-Earth. Emerging from the void, the Thunderbolts encountered their former teammates Hawkeye and Songbird, who had formed their own version of the Thunderbolts, who were similarly engaged with the void from the real Earth's counterpart of the spaceship. The two teams of Thunderbolts combined forces to plug the void and shunt the alien ship from Earth.
Jenkins' reunion with Melissa was short-lived. Despite their feelings for each other, he left her to return to prison to finish his sentence. Spending time as a hero seemed to change his outlook on life. After being paroled from prison, Jenkins reformed the Thunderbolts with the funding of Baron von Strucker. Any former villains or super-powered individuals who wanted a second chance were allowed to join. Songbird took charge of the team. Abe found himself working with Fixer once again. Abe eventually revealed he always intended to take down Strucker and they succeeded in defeating HYDRA's scheme to destroy Manhattan.
During the superhuman Civil War Abe joined the Hero Hunters and oversaw three college students using the previous Beetle armors (the first beetle theme design, the second streamlined update, and the third tank-like armor).
Later, during Norman Osborn's Dark Reign, Abner, alongside Fixer, was working on the Mach V version of the flight armor. One day he met with Songbird who wanted to bring the old band of Thunderbolts back together to deal with the team of killers Osborn had assembled as the new Thunderbolts. Abe pledged to help her and gave her the location of Radioactive Man. Melissa kissed him in thanks before leaving. When Melissa and Black Widow were in danger, he saved them from Osborn's new Thunderbolts with his new Mach V armor.
After the Siege in Asgard, Mach V was supervising Mac Gargan at the Raft after he was disbonded from the Venom symbiote. He was defeated by the Spider-Slayer, who escaped with Gargan to turn him again into the Scorpion. Mach-VII was later seen working at Pleasant Hill. Afterward, MACH-VII became MACH-X and joined with Winter Soldier's new team of Thunderbolts.
MACH-X was seemingly killed when Kobik's rampage destroyed the Thunderbolts' hideout.
Leila Davis was the wife of Anthony Davis AKA the Ringer. Not very successful as a super-villain, Anthony was humiliated by the Beetle who forced Ringer to battle Spider-Man against his will so that Jenkins could get data on Spider-Man's moves for his battle computer. Ringer was later killed by Scourge of the Underworld, leaving Leila a widow.
Hoping to get revenge on the Beetle, Leila acted as a getaway driver for the Sinister Syndicate and became romantically involved with Boomerang in order to get close to Jenkins. When Boomerang was arrested, she switched her affections to Speed Demon in order to remain with the crooks. Using some of her husband's old equipment, Leila sought to avenge her husband by attacking both Beetle and Spider-Man during a feud between two factions of the Syndicate. She was arrested and sent to prison.
After getting out of prison, Leila adopted an armored suit as Hardshell and formed her own gang. Hardshell soon learned Anthony was still alive, brought back as the cyborg Strikeback. Hardshell and Strikeback left the life of crime to reconnect their marriage. Anthony's cybernetics were incompatible over time, however, and he died of complications.
Leila's former vendetta with Abe Jenkins was the reason she was recruited into the Redeemers. She was given a version of the Beetle armor that the V-Battalion had retained while Jenkins was imprisoned. She was crushed to death by Graviton when the Redeemers confronted him.
The Three Beetles
Three college students stole the previous incarnations of the Beetle armor during Marvel's Civil War event. The individual piloting the first version was called Joaquim and the person in the second version was revealed to be female. No other information was revealed about them in their subsequent appearances in Thunderbolts.
In those issues which made up a storyline named the "Guardian Protocols", they defend the city of Dallas against a plot by the Grandmaster as members of an enlarged Thunderbolts team recruited by Baron Zemo and consisting of numerous supervillains. When the Overmind lets the full power of the Wellspring (the source of power the Grandmaster is using) loose when he attempts to revive Baron Zemo, the defenders of Sydney and Dallas are overrun, with the three Beetles presumably among them.
In 2007, the three Beetles were identified among the 142 registered superheroes who appear on the cover of the comic book Avengers: The Initiative #1. The Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe A-Z Update #5 revealed that the three college students that wear the three Beetle armors are named Joaquim Robichaux, Elizabeth Vaughn and Gary Quinn.
A new female Beetle attacks Captain America and Black Widow. The two managed to defeat her and remand her to The Raft. As part of the Marvel NOW! event, Beetle returns as a member of the latest incarnation of the Sinister Six. In this appearance, her first name is revealed to be Janice Lincoln, and is later revealed to be the daughter of Tombstone.
Beetle features as one of the main characters in Superior Foes of Spider-Man. Janice's origin is later recounted, where it is shown that as a child, she idolized her father and his criminal activities, but was forbidden to take part in them. After building a successful career as a defense attorney, she was appointed to defend Baron Zemo, at which point she volunteered to work for him as the new Beetle. Janice's armor is also revealed to have been built by the Fixer.
Roderick Kingsley (Hobgoblin had sold one of Abner Jenkins's old Beetle armors and gear to an unnamed criminal. He was seen at the Bar With No Name attending the wake of Electro's servant Francine Frye. Beetle was later seen at the Bar With No Name among the patrons who want the Black Cat to be the Queen of the Criminal Underworld.The Hobgoblin later regained the services of Beetle.
The Beetle name was used by an armored S.T.R.I.K.E. superhuman restraint squad in the Jaspers' Warp story arc published by the Marvel UK imprint.
The Ultimate Marvel version of Beetle is a mysterious mercenary from Latveria with a completely revamped armor. Spider-Man first finds Beetle robbing a sample of the Venom symbiote from the Roxxon Energy Corporation. Beetle later breaks into Bolivar Trask's company where Eddie Brock is held, leading to Venom chasing after Beetle. Just as Beetle is cornered, Venom is stopped by Spider-Man. When the Venom symbiote leaves Brock and attaches to Spider-Man, Beetle escapes in the confusion. Disguised as a civilian which Brock least expected, Beetle later captures Venom to deliver to Latveria. Beetle's suit is later seen being repaired by the Tinkerer (Elijah Stern) when a group of villains arrives for weapons against Spider-Man.
In Other Media
- The Abner Jenkins version of Beetle appeared in the 1980s Saturday morning animated series Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends, voiced by Christopher Collins.
- The Abner Jenkins version of Beetle made a brief appearance in the Iron Man animated series, voiced by John Reilly with a Liverpudlian accent that evokes the similarly named band.
- The Ultimate Marvel incarnation of Beetle appears in the Ultimate Spider-Man cartoon series, voiced by Steven Blum. This version is depicted as a highly capable criminal mercenary that rarely says anything and his notable trademark is the unusually large amount of fold-out rocket launchers hidden all over the surface of his armor. In the episode "Beetle Mania", he targets the Daily Bugle Communications for J. Jonah Jameson's campaign that exposes the mercenary's criminal dealings with various supervillains (i.e. springing MODOK from prison and dealings with Doctor Doom). When he fights the S.H.I.E.L.D. trainees, Beetle's assassination attempt is stopped by Spider-Man and he is knocked out by Power Man; Jameson was on monitor renderings the whole time unlike Mary Jane Watson actually being in the office. In the episode "The Attack of the Beetle", Beetle is shown having a penchant for holding grudges against Spider-Man for their previous encounter as well as Phil Coulson for being 'sparring partners'. During his first fight with the two, Beetle decides to use May Parker as a hostage. While May manages to escape, Beetle is eventually beaten by Spider-Man and Coulson (with help from May). In the episode "Hawkeye", Beetle went to destroy the new S.H.I.E.L.D. Tri-Carrier but is defeated and captured by Spider-Man and Hawkeye. In the episode "The Sinister Six", Beetle appeared as a member of the Sinister Six alongside Doctor Octopus, Electro, the Rhino, Kraven the Hunter and the Lizard. Along with the group, he fought Spider-Man. When the trainees arrive, Beetle fights with Nova but is defeated by Iron Fist after Spider-Man's teammates switch opponents and is later detained in S.H.I.E.L.D. custody. In the episode "Agent Venom", Beetle is hired by Taskmaster to obtain a sample of the Venom symbiote. Failing with the Venomized Scorpion, he chases after Flash Thompson, ignoring Harry Osborn and Mary Jane in the process. Beetle subsequently had to fight with Spider-Man and then Agent Venom. While Spider-Man deals with Taskmaster, Beetle is eventually defeated by Agent Venom. In the episode "New Warriors", Beetle is among the escaped supervillains along with Doctor Octopus, the Scorpion and the Green Goblin during a showdown between Taskmaster's team and the New Warriors. Along with his fellow supervillains, Beetle is eventually defeated by the New Warriors. In the episode "Contest of Champions" [Pt. 1], Beetle - alongside the Abomination and the Executioner - are sent by the Grandmaster to obtain Spider-Man for the contest against the Collector. In the episode "Anti-Venom", Beetle attempts to steal a truck only to be attacked by Spider-Man and Agent Venom in order to defeat possible Sinister Six recruits. However, HYDRA agents had previously upgraded Beetle's armor, allowing him to fight off the duo until the Patrioteer hacks Beetle's armor and sends Beetle crashing into the pavement.
- The Abner Jenkins version of Beetle appears in both the Super NES and Genesis Spider-Man Animated Series games based on the animated series.
- The Abner Jenkins version of Beetle was the first boss in the 1995 Super Famicom game Spider-Man: Lethal Foes, a game only released in Japan.
- The Abner Jenkins version of Beetle played a minor role in the PlayStation game Spider-Man 2: Enter Electro, voiced by Daran Norris.
- The Ultimate Marvel incarnation of Beetle appears in the Ultimate Spider-Man video game, voiced by Tucker Smallwood. This version acts as an agent for the Latverians, collecting genetic information from superhumans to allow them to genetically engineer super-soldiers. His notable actions in the game are he steals Sandman's vial of sand, frees Norman Osborn (aka Green Goblin), and battles Spider-Man shortly afterwards but escaped by ducking into the nearby Latverian Embassy. Concept art in the game's special edition shows Beetle giving Sandman's vial to Doctor Doom. Beetle is later sent to capture a sample of the Venom symbiote. However, Eddie Brock (aka Venom) eventually chases and defeats Beetle.
- The Ultimate Marvel version of Beetle appears in Lego Marvel Super Heroes, voiced again by Steven Blum.